GAO recommends US Navy delay Flight III destroyer procurement

The U.S. Navy has not demonstrated sufficient acquisition and design knowledge regarding its next-generation Flight III destroyer procurement approach and opportunities exist to enhance oversight, a study carried out by the U.S. Government Accountability Office study has revealed.

If the Navy procures the lead Flight III ship in fiscal year (FY) 2016 as planned, limited detail design knowledge will be available to inform the procurement, the government body further said.

The study has revealed that the Navy will be asking Congress to request authority to award new Flight III MYP contracts (FY 2018-2022) in February 2017 before being able to meet the criteria to seek this authority.

The Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) program’s SPY-6 radar is progressing largely as planned, but extensive development and testing remains. Testing of the integrated SPY-6 and full baseline Aegis combat system upgrade—beginning in late 2020—will be crucial for demonstrating readiness to deliver improved air and missile defense capabilities to the first DDG 51 Flight III ship in 2023, GAO said.

After a lengthy debate between the Navy and the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, the Secretary of Defense directed the Navy to fund unmanned self-defense test ship upgrades for Flight III operational testing, but work remains to finalize a test strategy.

GAO further said the Navy’s anticipated cost savings under the FY 2013-2017 Flight IIA multiyear procurement (MYP) plan do not reflect the planned addition of Flight III ships. While the Navy did not update its cost savings with Flight III information, doing so would increase transparency and could help inform expected savings under the next MYP.

Finally, Flight III cost and schedule performance is not distinguished from that of the overall DDG 51 ship class in annual reports to Congress. Establishing Flight III as a major subprogram would improve reporting and offer greater performance insight.

GAO recommended that Congress consider requiring an update of estimated savings for the current DDG 51 MYP to reflect the addition of Flight III ships.

In addition, the Navy should delay procurement of the lead Flight III ship and refrain from seeking authority for a MYP contract until it can meet criteria required for seeking this authority. DOD should also designate Flight III as a major subprogram to improve oversight.

“DOD partially concurred with all three recommendations but is not planning to take any new actions to address them. GAO continues to believe the recommendations are valid,” the accountability office said.